Officials say a person of interest in the July Fourth mass shooting has been taken into custody.
Robert E. Crimo III was spotted driving a silver Honda Fit in north Chicago hours after the attack. When an officer tried to “initiate a traffic stop,” the 22-year-old attempted to flee, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said in a briefing Monday evening.
“A brief pursuit went on,” but ultimately Crimo gave himself up, Jogmen said, adding that he was “taken into custody without incident.”
Jogmen said the investigation is moving quickly and noted that Crimo will be questioned by investigators at the department “to make sure or see if, in fact, he is connected to this incident.”
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When pressed, Jogmen declined to call Crimo a suspect at this stage in the investigation. The police chief said more information was needed to connect him to the shooting that left six dead and dozens of others injured.
Five of the six victims in the attack were adults who died at the scene, Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said at an earlier briefing. All five have been identified, and families are now being notified.
The sixth victim died at a local hospital. No additional information was provided.
Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage said a child who had been critically injured is among the roughly two dozen people taken to local hospitals. Some of the injuries include gunshot wounds to the abdomen and limbs.
NPR member station WBEZ reported the “vast majority” of the wounded are being treated for gunshot wounds. Some also “sustained injuries as a result of the ensuing chaos at the parade.”
Schrage said crews on scene responded quickly as did witnesses who helped tie tourniquets.
The shooter fired on the crowd from a rooftop
Authorities currently have no reason to believe there was more than one shooter, according to Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
The shooter used a high-powered rifle, which is now being investigated by thefederal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and was on the roof of a business. They allegedly accessed the roof via an alley using a ladder that was attached to the building and was unsecured.
Cmdr. Chris O’Neill from the Highland Park Police said the crime scene is still active, and officials are clearing buildings in the area. People who sheltered in place are being evacuated to safety.
Witnesses describe chaos, panic and disbelief
Miles Zaremski told NPR that when he first heard the gunshots he mistook them for a car backfiring or fireworks.
“And then all of a sudden, the crowd … started running in a stampede fashion,” he said.
“And then I gingerly went a little bit forward, and all of a sudden I see blood on the cement. And I see individuals in pools of blood … and I knew there was a mass shooting.”
Zaremski said he rushed to help but was quickly moved away by police and emergency services who descended on the scene within moments.
“I saw the carnage, and I almost broke down,” he said, shaken by the events.
Zaremski has lived in Highland Park since 1976 and described it as a loving and peaceful community at odds with the chaos he experienced.
“It’s surreal. It must have been a science fiction film I just saw, but unfortunately it wasn’t,” he said. “Our country is a scary place.”
The shooting was quick and vicious
O’Neill said the shooter began firing at about 10:14 a.m. local time. It’s unclear how many shots were fired, but several witnesses reported hearing about 20 or more rounds.
The incident happened very quickly, and police and fire units were already on scene because of the parade. O’Neill added that the department has trained in rapid deployment, rapid response and rendering aid.
President Biden says he and the first lady are ‘shocked’
President Joe Biden, who less than 10 days ago signed a bipartisan gun safety bill, issued a statement hours after the attack.
“Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”
He noted that the new law “includes actions that will save lives.”
The measure is the first gun reform legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years and was signed about a month after two other mass shootings rocked the nation.
Illinois governor calls the shooter a ‘monster’
Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker called for prayer in the wake of the “the evil unleashed this morning” but added that prayers alone would not address the problem of gun violence in the country.
“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community. There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures,” Pritzker said in a statement.
“We must — and we will — end this plague of gun violence.”
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said: “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims at this devastating time. On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us.”